Charles Brandt Receives Award – On behalf of All of Us.


On Tuesday May 30, 2017  Fr. Charles Brandt received the British Columbia Community Achievement Award for his role in ecological stewardship.


Reginal Director Edwin Grieve awards Fr. Charles Brandt - kathryn Jones photo

kathryn jones photo

Comox Valley Regional District Director, Edwin Grieve, presented the award to Charles, who at 94, couldn’t attend the Provincial Award Ceremony in Victoria. Upon receiving the award Charles said, “this is an award to all of us, it isn’t just to me.”


The story goes back to the mid 1960’s, about the time Charles arrived in the Comox Valley to join a colony of Catholic hermit monks. They lived near the Tsolum River. On the mountain above them, the Mount Washington Copper Mining Co. operated an open pit mine for two years before going bankrupt. After the mine was abandoned, the site’s 940,000 tonnes of waste rock brewed sulphuric acid that leached copper and other heavy metals into the Tsolum River Watershed for 44 years.  

    Comox Glacier - Charles Brandt photo (2)  Comox Glacier (left) rises above Courtenay River estuary – the Tsolum River is a tributary. 

In 1985 Charles Brandt wrote a letter to the BC Ministry of Environment – it began with the words, “the Tsolum River is dead.”

Steel Head Society Letter written by Chalres Brandt


And so began an epic 30 year struggle that brought together a diverse group of stakeholders and agencies who worked to obtain funds and find the solution to properly cap the mine to stop the deadly pollution.


photo compliments Tsolum River Restoration Society









Charles Brandt during the mine reclamation project


After the reclamation work was finally completed in 2010, the salmon returned to the river within one year. As Charles explained at the meeting, “In 1984 we had 9 Pink Salmon return (to the Tsolum River), and then… we got the mine fixed. 2 years ago 130,000 pinks returned.”


Pink Salmon spawning grounds Sept 24 Oyster River - charles brandt


Many friends and collaborators came out to show their appreciation for Charles and his life-long efforts to protect local watersheds and change the human relationship with nature.


Friends and collaborters of Charles Brandt at the Comox Valley Reggional District Office, May 30- 2017 - photo compliments Kathryn Jones 

When Charles spoke at the award ceremony he reiterated the following:

We experience a sense of wonder and delight when we fall in love with the natural world. It is only when we love someone or something that we will save them. And we can only love someone when we consider him or her as Sacred. Only the Sense of the Sacred will Save Us.


Thank you Charles, for your steadfast and inspiring example. In this difficult moment of earth’s history, you give us hope to move forward as active agents of change – as surely as the river flows to the sea.


tsolum river under a bright blue sky - by Charles Brandt] (3)


From the BC Achievement Awards Website

Fr. Charles Brandt, ERM
Black Creek

Father Charles Brandt believes that it is humanity’s great work to transform our disruptive influence on the earth to a benign presence. As a leading member of the Tsolum River Restoration Society, in partnership with other groups, he spearheaded a campaign to get the old copper mine site capped at a cost of $4.5 million, which enabled the return of salmon to the river. Father Brandt has also volunteered with the Oyster River Enhancement Society contributing to the return of salmon and trout stocks to the once decimated river.


BC Achievement award Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 3.13.57 PM

(click to enlarge)

 Recognizing and celebrating the spirit, imagination, dedication and contribution of British Columbians to their communities.


 The recipients of the 2017 awards are: (click on recipient for details)






A comox valley river - charles brandt photo

 A pink salmon in the Tsolum River (below) – Charles Brandt photo 

Pink Salmon in the Tsolum River - charles brandt photo (3)

The worst sin to our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them;

that’s the essence of inhumanity.     ~ George Bernard Shaw


Thanks to Chris Hilliar and Kathryn Jones for assistance with this article – and to so many others who made this community achievement possible.  Cheers – Bruce


12 thoughts on “THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO THAT CAN’T BE DONE– Right Charles?

  1. I forwarded this along to my relatives who live in Courteney, on the Island. They came to visit awhile later, and brought me a whole packet of photograph cards made by Father Charles! They are wonderful, many wildlife pictures. Nice to share this around. Thanks so much for posting!!! And good luck with your housekeeping… (!)

  2. Pingback: Charles Brandt Receives Award – On behalf of All of Us - Tide Change

    • Your welcome Roy. The river and salmon photos are by Charles. As I’ve shared previously in these ‘pages”, he knows intimately the local watersheds – and the fish and the fowl. Hope all is well over on the Channel Islands.

  3. Bruce, Your inspiring message will reach far beyond British Columbia. Father Charles Brandt is right that it takes cooperation and persistence by many people to correct problems like these. He couldn’t have done it alone. He still deserves lots of credit for being a catalyst and showing that others can succeed by following his example. The photos are beautiful, too.

    • Your welcome RosaIiene. I am grateful to have to have met Charles. He’s not only an inspiring person, he has helped me over the years when I have had personal struggles. Not long ago in an interview he said ” The only thing that lasts is love that you put into the heart of another person… Books, money, buildings – they disappear. So, if we can put love into another person’s life, that’s a lasting legacy.”

  4. Thank you Bruce for this uplifting and wonderful article about Father Charles and his well-earned award. He is a beacon of environmental wisdom in our community and beyond.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: